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Author Topic: Arduino Interest in Toronto or Waterloo, Ontario  (Read 20174 times)
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Does anyone know of any Arduino workshops or meetings in the Toronto or Waterloo areas?

Are there any other Arduino users on the list who live in the Waterloo area?
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yes!! I go to University of Waterloo! Was hoping to get an arduino club going for South-Western Ontario.

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darudude,

Although I live in Cambridge, and am not a student (I am an old guy) but have been playing around with Arduinos for about a month and would like to find others in the area to share information, do workshops, etc.

Do you know of other UoW students that are working with Arduinos who might be interested in forming a group?

My nephew is a student at Conestoga College and they are using Arduinos for some of their project work.

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I'm having trouble gauging interest among other students. I'm currently on coop in St. Catharines (General Motors) and really don't have many of my peers around to discuss the arduino with.

However, I don't think the Arduino would fly at Waterloo. I'm glad to see Conestoga is using the Arduino. its a great tool for beginers. It allows one to start prototyping right away. This is also the reason why I don't think the Arduino would fly very well at Waterloo. I was discussing it with one of my peers and he balked at the amount of space the bootloader used. He didn't get the benifits of catering to a larger audience, or the fact that a good bootloader gives you more time to design and less debugging.

I've been trying to get our robotics club and embedded systems clubs to take a look at the system. But they almost exclusively compete in competitions and have strict guidelines as to what parts they can use, so its hard to get them to start using the arduino.

That being said, I would love to start a group as soon as possible. I don't think the skill level really matters, I would love for the group to be more of a design group. People know what they want to build/hack together and we collectively as a group help each other out. It would also open us up to more skills (through everybody in the group's various expertise) and tools.
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Arduino is great bang-for-the-buck, compared to BASICStamp. You can get going with nothing more than a $40 Duemilanove and you are ready to go.

For another $12, you can have the proto shield . . . after that most of the components required for experimentation are already gathering dust in your parts-bin waiting for you.

One of the great things about the Arduino is the open source nature of the beast has helped to spawn off a variety of variations (Freeduino, LilyPad, Nano, Mini, Pro, etc) all at competitive price points. More importantly being open source has encourage the development of a wide variety of shields (proto, motor control, stepper motor, XBee Wireless, etc.) and you can even turbo charge it by replacing the atmega168 with the newer atmega328 chip for next to nothing.

Try that with BASICStamp that costs about $100 to get the equivalent of the basic Arduino Duemilanove at $40.

Having said all that it seems like BASICStamp has a better toehold on the educational market.

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lol you don't have to convince me. i completely agree that the arduino is the best board for beginners on the market. However, I'm in a Mechatronics Engineering Program, where most people want to dwell more into the architecture of the chip. Almost all my peers know how to write PIC Assembly and C and can put together an inline programming circuit very quickly that can be programmed using CC5X or someother compiler. So telling them they can get going for 50 bucks, will result in most of them shaking their heads at me and showing me a solution they can whip together for spare parts and the 5-10 dollar price of a PIC

The reason why I have taken such a linking to the PIC is the educational value at a much lower level. I can get my high school sister, who has trouble doing complicated tasks on the computer, excited about lighting an LED in 10 seconds, and have her doing minor programs within an hour; all without having to know what ports, interupts, etc are.

This is also the reason why I want to start the group. I like the idea that people can give their ideas an Arduino "brain" and get prototyping right away, instead of worrying about everything underneath it. It will be fun to have a group of poeple with various ideas and designs and getting to work with them right away.
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I went to UWaterloo and like in Toronto now.

I used to write PIC assembly, and I find the Arduino platform is far surperior.  I think your cost arguement doesn't really work, you can build a bare ATmega168 board and a programmer out of spare parts just as easily as for the PIC.

PIC lacks a simple development platform like the gcc compliler for AVR.  I've been burned too many times by my knowledge becomming obsolete.  Moving from the 16F to 18F architecture was like starting from scratch.
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I didn't consider the breadboard Arduino I do admit, but I also didn't consider sampling parts. If you go through the ECE department at Waterloo, you can get PICs for free due to an agreement they have with Microchip (the same way we get Microsoft products for free). Its basicly like sampling from Microchip but without the 3 part limitation and delivery is free and within the week.

And the 16F to 18F are completely different architectures, so many things changed. It was like moving from VB6 to VB.NET. And I'm guessing this would be the same moving from Mega to a higher family.

Sure the gcc library is key, I would say this is the PICs worse point, however CC5X and CC8X are not bad alternatives at all. It gets you away from righting horrendous PIC assembly and is fairly streamlined.

All this being said I do enjoy the Arduino platform better, its simplicity and ease of use has me smitten. And due to this factor alone, I will agree with you and say I too find the Aduino platform more enjoyable and, for my needs, superior.

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We didn't have a sampling program when I was there (CS/EEE 2000).  But I do remember our ECE241 project using FPGAs that I reproduced using a PIC and showed both versions in the lab just to annoy the prof.  We didn't use microcontrollers at all.

My point is that the 16F and 18F are completely different architectures.  What I'm saying is it's just stupid to have to start over because you're moving to a new architechure.  I use the exact same C++ language today on a quad core phenom chip as I used in my 3rd year CS courses in 1997.  And it's more-or-less the very same C++ I used to program an Arduino or higher family AVR chip.  Why would I want to waste brain cells knowning archaic details of every chip I've used in between?   I can still remember int21h from DOS in the 1980's.  That's really useful today.  The lower level you go, the more detail you need *and* the shorter the life of the information.

I'm not even going to comment on your VB6 vs VB.NET comparison except to say it makes me feel a little sick to my stomach to hear a Waterloo student talking favourably about MS (and MS flew me to Seattle for their NT Kernel team in 2000).

I can tell you exactly what it was that convinced me to switch to Arduino.  I was working on a PIC project for a very long time to flash and LED at a precisely controlled frequency as well as doing other tasks, reading analog inputs and performing 32-bit floating point division on them, driving an LCD, and interfacing serially with a PC.  I never did finish my project.  I obviously used timer interrupts for the LED, but I tried every trick I could think of to get everything I needed into the available processing power.  Westfw here might even remember how much time on PIClist I spent discussing the project, but it must have been at least 50 hours over 6 months.  That was also when I moved to the 18F architecture to try and get the extra power I needed, and that move is what killed the PIC for me.  Once I had an Arduino, I had that project finished within an hour, including the initial learning curve on Arduino.

For my second project, just think of the difference between using a PIC CCP module in assembly (16F or 18F btw?) vs using Arduino's pulseIn() function.  I was finished my project on the Arduino in the time I'd still be looking up special function registers in the PIC datasheet.

My only problem with Arduino so far is everything has been too easy to program to be enough challenge to be really satisfying.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 08:58:17 am by Oracle » Logged

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HAHA like the Microsoft dig. I personally don't have any problems with MS products, but quite a few Waterloo students share your view.

You make my arguement exactly, the Arduino is a great tool to have you up and running in a hurry. Thats what sold the Arduino to me. When I initally saw the Arduino I wasn't too interested cause I felt I was just paying for the IDE and could do everything with the PIC for free albeit with a little more effort. However, when I was on coop, where the free supply of parts and PICs weren't readily avaialble, the Arduino became viable and I haven't looked back since.

Also since most of my projects are designed to be open source and to be used as kits for beginners, the Arduino is the way to go.

BTW, trying to get back to the OP's topic, this would make for good discussion if we can get a group going in the South Western Ontario area!
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 Ah ha . . . at last darudude has helped to circle the converstation back around to the true topic at hand, "Arduino Interest in Toronto or Waterloo."

So what of it?

We have the three of us so far . . . I live in Cambridge.

Where do the two of you live and are you interested in meeting in a central spot at sometime in the near future?

I will see if through my nephew (a Conestoga EE student) or my wife (a Conestoga teacher) we can get something posted there to elict some possible interest.

Sounds like from what has been said here, there might not be too much interest in Arduino at UoW.

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Well im on coop right now at St. Catharines. I go to the waterloo and the Toronto area quite a bit do got meet my friends. Either location would be fine with me. I will talk to a few more kids at Waterloo but I dont expect much attention there.

I am helping out redesign the high school curriculum at my old high school and have a meeting with a technology teachers on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be able to spark an interest in them. I know one teacher who would be interested for sure, maybe 2. If the group hits off I know they won't have trouble attracting fellow high school technology teachers in the area.
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Also in Waterloo, but VERY new to microcontrollers. (Just got my Arduino today... looking forward to some learnign tonight). After taking a few PLC and computer programming courses, I decided I'd like to do some more tinkering on my own. As long as people don't mind my near ignorance of electronics , I'd be game for a meet-up.

Where's a good local spot to pick up parts (i.e. sensors, servos, etc.)?

Thanks!

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I go to Waterloo also (CS grad student).  Lots of experience with microcontrollers.  Love the arduino, always interested in seeing what people are doing with them.

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Dirigible,

I think most of us still feel like newbie's on these things, but not to worry these things are fairly tolerant of minor wiring mistakes.

As to good sources for components, I don't know who you bought your Arduino from but I bet they might also sell various sensors, servos and shield adapter boards.

Locally the best place to get model airplane servos is Flight Craft hobby store on Victoria Street in Kitchener. Small no-name servos on the front counter are about $11.

Beyond that, KW Surplus has some switches and such, but nowhere near the variety that they had 15 years ago. They do have one bargain though, Velmen bulk packs of resistors, electrolytic capacitors, LED's and transistors. The first three packs are a very good bargain in the $15-25 range each you will be well supplied. Not sure about the pack of transistors (I think about $30), they look like a lot of 2N2222, 2N2229 . . . general purpose PNP and NPN transistors so they are all good for experimentation, but it looks like not much variety . . . for $6 you could get 6-10 pairs of the ones you will most likely need for basic experimentation.

If the bulk packs look a little big . . . try splitting the cost with someone else . . . that's one of the nice things about clubs or groups is the ability to share resources of all types.

For general components (resistors, capacitors, transistors, ICs, switches and such) there is Orion Electronics at 40 Lancaster Street, Kitchener who are not too bad . . . and beat the hell out of Radio Shack or the Source of whatever it is they call themselves these days.

I find Orion a little expensive and customer service is not their forte . . . however they are definitely better than Waterloo Electronics on Hartwood Ave in Waterloo. These guys are really just set up to handle commercial accounts . . . although they are glad to take your money as well and they do have some things that are hard to get elsewhere.

Locally my favourite is Sayal Electronics who are on Fountain Street in Cambridge (directly across the street from the Toyota plant). They have tons of stuff at reasonable prices. Customer service varies . . . if you get the young guy in his 20's things are good . . . if you get one of the older guys it is a little more hit and miss. But they have a good selection and reasonable prices.

Down in Mississauga there is an industrial plaza at 1350 Matheson Blvd. that has three electronic supply stores; Sayal, Active and ??? All in one building so it is a good place to go as well.

Now if you have made the pilgrimage as far as Mississauga you might as well carry on for the full Monte and find your way to downtown Toronto to Active Surplus Electronics at 345 Queen Street West. The place is a little hard to find . . . 2nd floor of a skinny orange building just a few doors away from the Silver Surfer comic book store.

Now here you have hit the jackpot of weird, wonderful and wacky technological wonders of all varieties . . . this is the kind of place that KW Surplus was 15 years ago!


Aside from that, here are a few links to some of my favourite web stores:

http://www.nkcelectronics.com/index.html
REALLY EXCELLENT SERVICE!!! Check out the neat little oscilloscope on the TEST page of NKC; I have one and it works very well with small microcontrollers.

http://www.adafruit.com/
REALLY EXCELLENT SERVICE!!!

http://store.fungizmos.com/

http://www.robotshop.ca/
Canadian but prices are slightly higher . . . EXCELLENT SERVICE!!!

http://www.makershed.com/?Click=19208

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/categories.php
« Last Edit: February 06, 2009, 04:00:18 pm by CSingleton » Logged

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